It’s Back to School time, and not just for the young ones. Many of us have children going to college this fall, learning new life skills and having the time of their life. With these 7 tips you can help them make sure that it’s “their life” having all the fun and not just their identity.
Parents who are sending their kids off to college have enough to worry about- grades, drinking, oh yeah, and then there’s paying for college. Unfortunately parents also need be concerned about identity theft crimes against their favorite college students.
You’re sending your kids off to college hoping that they will get a good education and not have to learn all of their lessons in life the hard way. The good news is that education is also the key to preventing identity theft.
College life is a unique time and The U.S. Department of Education acknowledges that students are at an increased risk for two main reasons: “the availability of personal data and the way many students handle this data.”
1. Shred Credit Card Applications
Many college students recently applied for credit for the first time and you will begin to get credit card offers in the mail every week. Not only do these pre-approved credit cards usually offer horrible interest rates, the applications themselves make it too easy for someone to fill out, do a change of address and get a credit card in your name.
2. Reconcile Banking and Credit Statements
Research has shown that over a third of college students rarely, if ever, reconcile their credit card statements and or checking account balances. This is an important life skill every college student needs to make a habit now.
3. Demand No Social Security Numbers for Posting Grades
research at Carnegie Mellon University
has shown how easy it is to “guess” at least the first five numbers of someone’s social security numbers.. Posting grades even by the last four digits of a social security is unsafe and unacceptable.
4. Demand No Social Security Numbers as College IDs
After a rash of computer losses and computer thefts that have exposed college students social security numbers, many colleges and universities are changing the way they identity college students so that the social security number isn’t used. Absolutely insist that your social is not used for a college id and exposed to faculty, staff and yes, hundreds of college interns.
5. Be Smart on Social Networking Sites
College students who have grown up on the technology wave are so comfortable with social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook that they are often are just not smart. A tad bit of personal information here and another morsel than can offer a complete picture for an identity thief. Is it really worth it to get a Happy Birthday message from your 300 closest friends, if your are offering up the key to unlocking your identity to millions of people?
6. Make Sure Your Passwords Can Pass the Test
Sure college students have a lot of things to remember including a new class schedule ever semester. It’s tempting to go easy on yourself with passwords but this isn’t the place to skimp. Don’t use your birthday, your girlfriends or boyfriends name, your favorite team or any passion that is easy to identity. Always use a combination of letters and numbers and yes, you need different passwords for banking or other online accounts.
7. Beware of Phishing Texts
You never know just who might be texting you these days. It could be your Grandma but you can be sure that a legitimate credit card company or bank will not text you and ask you for login, password or account information.
So along with studying hard, college students need to make sure that they get enough sleep, eat healthy, protect their personal information and oh yeah, call your Mom.